Special needs schools get smart

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DionWired has begun supplying interactive whiteboards to special needs schools around the country.

DionWired GM Andrew Jackson says: “Until now, this state-of-the-art technology was available mainly to schools with substantial funding.

“We are bringing it to the children who need it most. This project helps special needs children in marginalised communities with their learning.”

According to the company, a total of 15 installations will be complete by the end of June, and a new allocation to the project will be made for the new financial year in July.

“The total DionWired social investment budget will be allocated to Smart technology products for special needs schools, catering for children with a wide range of physical and intellectual disabilities,” says the company.

Tactile learning

The Smart Board interactive whiteboard is a large touch-sensitive screen that works with a computer and a data projector to provide a central focal point in a classroom, and allows teachers and learners to write with pens or move objects such as images with their fingers.

The DionWired grant includes the Smart Board, a notebook computer, speakers, microphones, data projector, Smart Notebook collaborative learning software, and training, valued at approximately R50 000 per school.

“Children with disabilities often benefit from the tactile experiences, which interactive whiteboards provide,” says Jackson.

“The tactile learner is instantly engaged by the colourful images and can directly interact with the board by manipulating letters, words, pictures and numbers. At the same time, sound effects can be added to objects on the board to assist aural learners.”

Touch of a button

Anand Sirkissoon, principal of RP Moodley School, in KwaZulu-Natal, a recipient of a Smart Board from DionWired earlier this year, says: “The Smart Board holds children's attention and keeps them interested for longer periods. Educators have the option to appeal to one or more senses.

“Information can be presented visually, making language more meaningful for a child with low functional speech. Touch-screen technology enables a child with physical limitations and the partially sighted to participate in learning.”

Jane Noble of the Browns' School, also in KwaZulu-Natal, adds: “Now we have an endless world of learning programmes, documentaries, DVDs, curriculum-based games - a multimedia library that can be accessed at the touch of a button.”

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